This simple lesson from Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson explains so much, yet so little people realize and apply the truths explained here. Even trained economists like Paul Krugman, writing in The New York Times, fail to recognize the truth of Bastiat's lesson as explained by Hazlitt when he remarked that "the terror attack [of 9/11/2001 that destroyed the World Trade Center] could even do some economic good."
Posts tagged as “Economics”
Our economy is so intertwined and interdependent that it is impossible for the government to guide it in any direction without setting off a long chain of consequences. This is another example of the folly of centralized economic planning.
Recently two editorials appeared in The Wichita Eagle promoting government spending on the arts because it does wonderful things for the local economy. The writers are Rhonda Holman and Joan Cole, who is chairwoman of the Arts Council.
I read the study that these local writers relied on. The single greatest defect in this study is that it selectively ignores the secondary effects of government spending on the arts.
I, Pencil is one of the most important and influential writings that explain the necessity for limited government. A simple object that we may not give much throught to, the story of the pencil illustrates the importance of markets, and the impossibility of centralized economic planning.
"The unfettered free market has been the most radically destructive force in American life in the last generation."
-- First Lady Hillary Clinton on C-Span in 1996 stating her troubles with the free market
"What most people really object to when they object to a free market is that it is so hard for them to shape it to their own will. The market gives people what the people want instead of what other people think they ought to want. At the bottom of many criticisms of the market economy is really lack of belief in freedom itself."
-- Milton Friedman, Wall Street Journal, May 18, 1961
Here’s Williams’ law: Whenever the profit incentive is missing, the probability that people’s wants can be safely ignored is the greatest. If a poll were taken asking people which services they are most satisfied with and which they are most dissatisfied with, for-profit organizations (supermarkets, computer companies and video stores) would dominate the first list while non-profit organizations (schools, offices of motor vehicle registration) would dominate the latter. In a free economy, the pursuit of profits and serving people are one and the same. No one argues that the free enterprise system is perfect, but it’s the closest we’ll come here on Earth.
Did you know that a study used to promote the economic development benefits of gambling in Wichita has casino workers paying for a large part of the social costs of gambling?
There really is no free lunch. What Kansans spend on university repairs can't be spent on something else.
Should Kansas spend the money that the Regents are asking for to repair the universities? Because it fails to recognize the secondary effects of the proposed spending, the analysis put forth by the Docking Institute doesn't answer that question.
The kind of rules we should have are the kind that we'd make if our worst enemy were in charge. My mother created a mini-version of such a rule. Sometimes she would ask either me or my sister to evenly divide the last piece of cake or pie to share between us. More times than not, an argument ensued about the fairness of the division. Those arguments ended with Mom's rule: Whoever cuts the cake lets the other take the first piece.
From The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2007: "Ethanol gets a 51-cent a gallon domestic subsidy, and there's another 54-cent a gallon tariff applied at the border against imported ethanol. Without those subsidies, hardly anyone would make the stuff, much less buy it -- despite recent high oil prices."
Remove this subsidy and the tariff. Remove the subsidy paid to farmers who grow the corn that is used to make ethanol. Then, the free market will rapidly tell us the true value of ethanol.
Today there are adults -- including educated adults -- who explain multimillion-dollar corporate executives' salaries as being due to "greed." Think about it: I could become so greedy that I wanted a fortune twice the size of Bill Gates' -- but this greed would not increase my income by one cent. ...One of the reasons why central planning sounds so good, but has failed so badly that even socialist and communist governments finally abandoned the idea by the end of the 20th century, is that nobody knows enough to second guess everybody else. Every time oil prices shoot up, there are cries of "greed" and demands by politicians for an investigation of collusion by Big Oil. There have been more than a dozen investigations of oil companies over the years, and none of them has turned up the collusion that is supposed to be responsible for high gas prices. Now that oil prices have dropped big time, does that mean that oil companies have lost their "greed"? Or could it all be supply and demand -- a cause and effect explanation that seems to be harder for some people to understand than emotions like "greed"?
-- Thomas Sowell
There are two areas in which I believe this writer is mistaken. First, if the transaction between developer and farmer was voluntary, each is better off than they were before. The developer (and by extension the people he hopes to sell houses to) valued the land more than the farmer did. Otherwise, why would the transaction take place? These voluntary transactions that make both parties better off than before are the basis for the creation of wealth and prosperity.
This article presents compelling evidence that raising the minimum wage is not in the best interests of low-wage workers.
Understanding the minimum wage, and why an increase will be harmful to those it is meant to help, requires thinking beyond stage one.
It seems like an easy fix for social injustice: pass a law requiring employers to pay workers more than they would otherwise. Magically, everyone has more wealth.
It would be nice if it were so easy and simple. Looking at only the immediate effects and listening to the rhetoric of some politicians and editorial writers, it would seem that a higher minimum wage is good. But considering all effects of a higher minimum wage reveals a different situation.
You may recall that I have spoken to this body in years past expressing my opposition to the AirTran subsidy. At that time we were told that the subsidy was intended to be a short-tem measure. Today, four years after the start of the subsidy, with state funding planned for the next five years, it looks as though it is a permanent fixture.
In a June 16, 2006 column, Wichita Eagle editorial writer Rhonda Holman again congratulates local and state government for its success in renewing the AirTran subsidy, and for getting the entire state of Kansas to help for it.
The effect of the AirTran subsidy is to reduce the price of airfare to and from Wichita. That is its stated goal. If the subsidy did not work to reduce prices, we would be wasting our money. The fact is that the subsidy does work to reduce airfares to and from Wichita. It also does what any economist could predict: it reduces the supply of air transport to and from Wichita. I think that's why economics is called the "dismal science." There really is no free lunch.
This interesting book explains in detail what many people already know: that advances in technology -- and in politics to some degree -- have made the world a smaller place. Not only have manufacturing jobs been moved overseas, but white-collar jobs such as accountant, computer programmer, radiologist, and many others can be done from anywhere in the world. Even a McDonald's restaurant is not immune. At a McDonald's drive-through in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the person you speak to when ordering is not present in the restaurant you're visiting. Instead, the person you're speaking to is in Colorado, a long way from Missouri. But when considering telecommunications India, as a practical matter, is no farther away.
This book, first published in 1946, explains common fallacies (a false or mistaken idea) that are particularly common in the field of economics and public policy.